Consumers may wonder wonder why almost every general consumer women’s magazine with health articles keeps pushing peanut butter as a polyunsaturated fat instead of coconut water, or even fatty coconut milk, which is medium chain triglyceride saturated fat, but not animal fat. Are you loading up on peanut butter only to find that possible excess omega 6 fatty acids are making you feel terrible or worsening some of your blood test results?
Did you know that peanuts contain 4,000 milligrams of omega-6 in each 28 gram, one ounce serving of peanuts, and 1 milligram of omega-3? Check out one of the sources of this information on the link, Dr. Bill Lands, “1 of 4 on Cardiovascular Disease: Omega-6 displaces Omega-3.” Maybe you need a change of oil.
Last year a news announcement noted that peanut butter prices were set to rise up to 30 percent. Last summer’s hot, dry weather devastated the Runner peanut crop, the variety most commonly used in making peanut butter, causing prices of raw peanuts to soar. The resulting increase in peanut prices last year was expected to raise the price consumers pay for peanut butter by more than 25 percent on most major brands. Then this year, in October 2012, there was a peanut butter and peanut recall on certain products. See, Peanut butter recall expands to 240 products | Fox News.
Too many omega 6 fatty acids in your diet from a variety of foods and condiments?
Is there excess omega 6 fatty acids in peanut butter — if you eat too many peanut butter sandwiches or feed kids too many peanut butter and jelly lunches? What about foods with excess omega 6 fats/oils from foods served in schools or in the military or institutional settings? Interestingly, email from an intelligent, informed reader mentions that very few people, even health experts for that matter, are even aware that the omega-6 fatty acid problem exists.
With a few notable exceptions, it seems as though most of those aware of the consequences of excessive omega-6 intake do not appreciate the magnitude of the problem. In email one reader sent me, that reader has been studying nutritional issues and controversies for more than three decades.
More recently that reader has been writing letters to journalists, scientists, and politicians encouraging them to learn about added sugars and industrial seed oils, the two components in the modern food supply responsible for many of The Modern Nutritional Diseases. The important point is how much omega 6 fatty acids most people in the USA are eating in processed foods or even in peanuts eaten in large quantities? Are the oils people get in food balanced with the correct ratio of omega 3 and omega 9 from other foods, whether they’re from avocados, krill or cod liver oil, vegan algae sources of omega 3, or walnuts?
The pre-industrial revolution amount of omega-6 fats people ate were lower
If omega-6 intake were reduced to pre-industrial revolution intake, the November 21, 2010 email received from a reader noted that consumers might suspect there would be a massive decrease in the incidence of chronic inflammatory diseases of all sorts. Moreover, replacing omega-6 with healthy sources of saturated fat in conjunction reduced fructose intake would potentially eradicate chronic inflammatory disease altogether.
An interesting example of a culture consuming minimal omega-6 and fructose is the Kitavans, (See the Kitava Study) the email from the aware reader noted. Eighty percent of the adult population are daily smokers yet there are no strokes and no heart attacks. How could that be? The saturated-fats-are-bad dogma that you may read in a variety of popular media is of particular concern to some consumers perhaps because of the harm caused by demonizing them.
When are saturated fats beneficial?
Are saturated fats beneficial if consumed in context of adequate supportive nutrition? Too often solid fats are used in some pleasure or comfort foods. Food surveys employed in epidemiology have never obtained sufficient data to distinguish the effects of natural saturated fats from omega-6 trans fats. Yet they are the basis for the current public health recommendation to limit saturated fat intake.
Among those who do appreciate the seriousness of the omega-6 problem are Chris Kresser  and Stephen Guyenet . Their articles about omega-6 are about as good as it gets. Also Evelyn Tribole has a website dedicated to the omega-6 problem .
How hazardous to your health is excess omega 6 fatty acids? What can excess omega 6 do to your immune system? Are you eating lots of peanut butter, for example, because you read it might control your blood glucose levels along with cinnamon, but now find you have worsened gum disease from eating excess omega 6? Perhaps you need to balance omega 6 with omega 3 and omega 9 in portions that are best tailored to your own health needs?
How little omega 6 fatty acids are needed?
You might check out some of the books by John Yudkin, T.L. Cleave, and others about how much or little omega-6 seed oils you need to keep that balance. After all, even olive oil touted as healthy has omega 6 fatty acids. Then ask yourself why cultures consuming lots of fresh pressed, cold pressed, expeller pressed extra virgin olive oil seem to be healthy. What else are they eating to keep their diet in balance? Perhaps lots of omega 3 fatty acids and omega 9 fatty acids?
The edible oils industry must have a lot of commercial, academic, and political clout because there seems to be somewhat of a general, popular consumer magazine media blackout now and then regarding the harmful effects of excessive omega-6 consumption. For example, see, “Case Study: 30-Days of high Omega-6 Diet — Stiffens Arteries and Increases Belly Fat.”
As registered dietitian, Evelyn Tribole (M.S. R.D.) notes, “Oprah magazine paid for the study and article but declined to publish the results,” according to that article. In that July 25, 2010 article, a daring journalist ate a high omega–6 diet for 30–days (think Super-Size Me), which resulted in stiffer arteries.
In the article, the woman eating a 30-day diet including a specific amount of omega 6 fatty acids didn’t have any changes in her weight. But the changes occurred in the fatty acid composition of her bloodstream, body fat, arterial function, and body mass composition, according to that article. Basically, just by increasing omega 6 fatty acids and decreasing omega 3 fatty acid, the changes took place. Check out that article on how too much omega 6 fatty acids increases belly fat and stiffens arteries.
Now check out Consumer Reports on Health. Did you ever wonder why there’s so few mentions of omega 6 fatty acids? Although there are a number of articles about the therapeutic benefits of omega-3s, where’s the mention of omega-6? This is strange because as early as 1999 National Institutes of Health scientists were recommending reduced intake of omega-6s to increase the effectiveness of omega-3s.
Excess consumption of omega 6 cooking or salad dressing oils?
You need to reduce excess consumption of omega 6 polyunstaturated fatty acids (also called PUFAs). For optimal brain function, omega 3 fatty acids are increased in the diet of children and adults. Did you notice recently that DHA has been added to baby food to increase more omega 3 fatty acids even in the diets of infants of a specific age who are eating their first solid foods?
You don’t want to end up with various oils competing with one another for certain enzymes. One type of oil can inhibit the conversion of enzymes. The problem is with the standard Western diet that contains too many dietary plant oils rich in omega 6 PUFAs, such as corn, safflower, and soybean oils. Again, balance is needed. But with all the food you eat in restaurants or fast food eateries and sometimes at home fried in vegetable oils with too high an omega 6 fatty acid content, that’s when the imbalance may happen.
What you may need to do is check out the article, “Workshop on the Essentiality of and Recommended Dietary Intakes for Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids,” published in Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 18, No. 5, 487-489 (1999). More recently, in a BMJ article entitled Adherence to Mediterranean diet and risk of developing diabetes: prospective cohort study the authors wrote in the Conclusion, “Our prospective cohort study suggests that substantial protection against diabetes can be obtained with the traditional Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, vegetables, fruits, nuts, cereals, legumes, and fish but relatively low in meat and dairy products.”
Under the heading Diet and Disease the authors wrote, “Apart from olive oil, adherence to an overall Mediterranean-type food pattern is related to lower plasma concentrations of inflammatory markers and markers of endothelial dysfunction.” So, that may be part of the answer to why olive oil is helpful.
The Mediterranean diet does seem to reduce inflammatory markers
To explain why, in a paper, “Dietary Fat Quality and Coronary Heart Disease Prevention: A Unified Theory Based on Evolutionary, Historical, Global, and Modern Perspectives,” the authors note that “The only long-term trial that reduced n-6 LA intake to resemble a traditional Mediterranean diet (but still higher than preindustrial LA intake) reduced CHD events and mortality by 70%. Although this does not prove that LA intake has adverse consequences, it clearly indicates that high LA intake is not necessary for profound CHD risk reduction.”
So folks, thanks to a reader from the Nutrition Education Project, who sent me this material today, here utilized, with written permission, you also need to investigate the excess omega-6 hazard. Did you ever notice that it is now a century since omega 6 seed oils have been introduced into the Western world’s food supply? What were folks using for cooking oil one hundred years ago? The answer is whatever oils or fats were used in anyone’s specific ethnic group in the previous century.
Cookbooks from 1895 recommended different types of fats
Check out the American 1895 cookbooks–lots of cream, butter, and/or coconut oil. But you don’t want an excess of dairy either. With homogenization, the tiny molecules aren’t what you want to load up on. This was not so great 100 years ago for the lactose-intolerant or for those who had adverse reactions to any type of dairy products when bread was buttered instead of dipped in warmed olive oil and garlic as they did along the Adriatic and in some Mediterranean areas. Are you getting enough omega 3 fatty acids in this century as you balance your diet?
A century ago, for example, rendered chicken fat, butter, and cream, were commonly used among Central Europeans, lard among many different peoples in the new World and in many areas of Europe, beef suet/fat among others, coconut oil among people from more tropical areas, and olive oil in Mediterranean regions.
South Asians used sesame oil or clarified butter (ghee). The worse time for shortening in the USA ran from the 1920s to the 1950s when trans fats were sold in cans as solid white shortening. And people started frying potatoes, meats, and fish in trans fats, those partially hydrogenated fats. What should you do today? Get enough omega 3 fatty acids and remember, everything in balance.
1. The Healthy Skeptic: The top 3 dietary causes of obesity & diabetes.
2. Whole Health Source: Excess omega 6 fatty acids damages infants.
3. Omega 6- Omega 3 Balance – Omega Optimize.